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Sin, Forgiveness, Faith, and Service

17 Jesus[a] said to his disciples, “Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe[b] to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone[c] tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea[d] than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.[e] Watch[f] yourselves! If[g] your brother[h] sins, rebuke him. If[i] he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive[j] him.”

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  1. Luke 17:1 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  2. Luke 17:1 sn See Luke 6:24-26.
  3. Luke 17:2 tn This term refers to the heavy upper stone of a grinding mill (L&N 7.70; BDAG 660 s.v. μυλικός). sn The punishment of drowning with a heavy weight attached is extremely gruesome and reflects Jesus’ views concerning those who cause others who believe in him to sin.
  4. Luke 17:2 tn Grk “if a millstone were tied…and he were thrown.” The conditional construction in Greek has been translated by English infinitives: “to have…and be thrown.”
  5. Luke 17:2 tn Or “to stumble.” This verb, σκανδαλίσῃ (skandalisē), has the same root as the noun σκάνδαλον (skandalon) in 17:1, translated “stumbling blocks”; this wordplay is difficult to reproduce in English. It is possible that the primary cause of offense here would be leading disciples (“little ones”) astray in a similar fashion.
  6. Luke 17:3 tn It is difficult to know if this looks back or forward or both. The warning suggests it looks back. For this verb, see Luke 8:18; 12:1, 15; 20:46; 21:8, 34. The present imperative reflects an ongoing spirit of watchfulness.
  7. Luke 17:3 tn Both the “if” clause in this verse and the “if” clause in v. 4 are third class conditions in Greek.
  8. Luke 17:3 tn Here the term “brother” means “fellow believer” or “fellow Christian” (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.a, contra BDAG 19 s.v. 2.c), but with a familial connotation. It refers equally to men, women, or children. However, because of the familial connotations, “brother” has been retained in the translation here in preference to the more generic “fellow believer” (“fellow Christian” would be anachronistic in this context).
  9. Luke 17:3 tn Grk “And if.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  10. Luke 17:4 sn You must forgive him. Forgiveness is to be readily given and not withheld. In a community that is to have restored relationships, grudges are not beneficial.